Chongming Island

On August 17, 2011, in Islands, Places of Interest, Shanghai, Yangtze River, by Jack Li

It took over 1300 years for the two sandbanks in the mouth of the Yangtze River to develop into the third largest island of China — Chongming Island. So far it is also the largest sand island lying in the river delta. Three sides of the island face the river. The southeastern shore of the island faces the East China Sea; from the west and south of the island you could see Changshu, Taicang in Jiangshu, and the Jiading, Baoshan, Chuansha, Nanhui counties in Shanghai; the east and north of the island are next to Qidong, Haimen in Jiangshu. The island is 76 kilometers long and 13~18 kilometers wide. The shape of the island resembles silkworm. The total area of the island is 1064 square kilometers (according to the survey carried out in 1981, including the 22 square kilometers of Yonglongsha). About 817 square kilometers belong to the Chongming County. The eastern and western ends of the island are extending at a pace of 143 meters every year. In the years AD 618~626 (during the reign of Wude Emperor in Tang Dynasty) in the southern water of the Dongbu sandbank, two sandbanks appeared. The distance between the two sandbanks is over 70 kilometers, and they were named Dongsha and Xisha (also known as Gujunsha). The two sandbanks are the predecessors of Chongming Island. The water around Chongming is clean, and the light breeze is blowing. The beauty of nature exists in every corner of the island. As early as in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the eight scenic spots of Yingzhou in the island had already been very famous. Nowadays the sceneries of the island are even more beautiful. The 200 kilometers long dyke is surrounded by the island. As the dyke is full of trees, it resembles a green dragon lying in the mouth of Yangtz River. And in the morning you can appreciate the gorgeous sunrise of the China East Sea in the eastern part of the dyke; at dusk, standing at the western part of the dyke, you can see the sunset and listen to the songs sung by the fishmen coming back from the sea. The island also has many historical relics and cultural sceneries. For example, the Yingzhou Park facing the river, Dan Garden in Chengqiao Town, Jinqo Mountain, Shouan Temple, Confucian Temple, the Grave of Tang Yicheng, the ancient war site of Zheng Chenggong battle against the Qing army, as well as the largest man-made forest in Eastern China – Dongping Forest. There are three features unique to Chongming Island, first one being the large number of crabs. You can find crabs everywhere in the mudbanks of Chongming island. Therefore Chongming Island is also known as the ‘Crab Island’. The second feature is the reed forest on the beach. It is called as ‘the green Great Wall’ of the island. The last feature is that the shape of the island keeps changing constantly. It is not like the stone islands, which retain their shape for thousands of years.

Chongming Island Attractions    

Chongming Yangtze River Bridge

Dongping National Forest Park

Xisha Wetland Park

Mingzhu Lake (Pearl Lake)

Chongming Island Story

1.   The Origin of Chongming Island

The origin of the island comes from a legend. In the last years of East-Jin Dynasty, the peasant uprising of Sunen failed. Some bamboo rafts of the uprising drifted to the mouth of Yangtze River near the East China Sea. The bamboo rafts grounded because of the mud near banks. These rafts stopped the mud flowing to the sea. As the time passed, a sandbank was formed. With the rise and fall of the tide, the sandbank often disappeared under water. It gave people a feeling of mystery. Someone thought it looked like a monster; someone thought it looked like an immortal. Therefore it got the name ‘Suiming’ (Sui meaning furtive, Ming meaning obvious and bright). Afterwards more and more mud piled here, the sandbank became tall and large and totally above the water. It finally could be called an island. The tide could no longer affect it. In order to show respect to the large island, people changed its name into ‘Chongming’ (Chong meaning respect).

2.   Yingzhou in East Sea 

Chongming Island has another beautiful ancient name called ‘Yingzhou in East Sea’. It was said that there was a Yingzhou in the ancient East Sea where immortals lived. However, nobody knew where it was. First Emperor of Qin (Qin Shi Huang) and Emperor Wu of Western Han had sent people to search for it with no result. When it came to Ming Dynasty, Emperor Zhuyuanzhang bestowed the title of ‘ Yingzhou in East Sea’ upon Chongming Island. Since then, Chongming Island had the good name as ancient Yingzhou.

Jack Li

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